The impact of violent games on young people is an issue of concern to many parents, psychiatrists, and governments since it generates perception about the possible increases in the level of aggression among players. However, the literature on this topic has significant differences due to the research methods and approaches. The studies often contradict one another, some identify that violence in video games can reduce the level of negative emotions by freeing them within the framework of the game; while others claim that playing violent video games can result in aggressive behavior. Although a significant number of studies proposed the effects of aggression-provoking games on the increased level of stress and aggression, those findings are not proven to have long-term consequences.
A study by Schareer et al. (2018) provides the ground for their interpretation that video games do contribute an influence on aggressive behavior. In their observation, Schareer et al. (2018) reviewed studies conducted earlier by other researchers. The review recognizes limitations in all studies, but “find that most data that are available on the topic do point to a connection to a connection between playing video games and some form of aggression” (p. 15). Although most researches point to the link between violence in video games and the sensitiveness to aggressive behavior, Schareer et al. (2018) did not find the long-term outcomes of violent video games and the transfer of the play’s patterns into real life.
Conversely, despite the primary concern that violence in video games is related to aggressiveness, a study by Roy and Ferguson (2016) emphasized that violent games reduced the stress level among the research participants. For the study, Roy and Ferguson (2016) monitored pre and post self-reports blood pressure, and heart rate as a measure of the emotional reaction to the video game. According to the results, the effects of competitive and cooperative gameplay were found to be successful in decreasing heart rate and systolic blood pressure, as well as self-reported stress, concluding that a “game with mild violence is effective as a means to reduce stress, whether played cooperatively or competitively” (Roy & Ferguson, 2016). However, the study by Porter (2019) assessed Roy and Ferguson’s findings and suggested that without objective psychological measures, it is not possible to identify whether violent video games decrease the level of stress.
The limitation of the previously mentioned research evaluated by Porter (2019) found that emotional and psychological stress outcomes can move in different directions. For instance, violent gameplay, as Porter stated, increased heart rate and blood pressure, but violent players also had higher positive emotion ratings than nonviolent players (Porter, 2019). Emotional and physiological stress outcomes showed different results, and violent gameplay predicted a physiological stress response while also inducing more positive emotions. Nevertheless, as Porter (2019) emphasized, the possible increases in blood pressure during the game would return to the baseline immediately after the gameplay. The study concluded that all the possible increases in cardiovascular activities would not remain any negative psychological effects. Thus, even if some stress factors are induced, they are not to remain after the game.
Kuhn et al. (2018) observed and tested the behavior of violent video game players for two months. Kuhn et al. (2018) conducted research including three target groups; those who played violent video games, non-violent video games, and did not play at all for a period of 2 months on a daily basis. The research did not reveal any specific changes in aggression, empathy, impulsivity-related constructs, depressive, anxiety, or executive control functions. Neither did it confirm differences in comparison to an active control group playing a non-violent video game nor to a passive control group. Kühn et al. (2018) concluded after researching that “effects of violent video gaming on aggressiveness—if present at all (see above)—seem to be rather short-lived, potentially lasting <15 min” (p.1231). This statement straightly opposes other studies which argue upon the causal relationship between violent video games and aggression. Important to note, that research participants were adults older than 25, which provokes a question of whether different age groups would have various results.
However, whether video games engagement is associated with adolescents’ aggressive behavior was examined by Przybylski and Weinstein (2019). Having considered the biases in participants’ self-reported surveys, the researchers relied on the carers’ reports. As a result, multiple regression analyses were tested to predict whether the recent violent gameplay was “linearly and positively related to carers assessments of aggressive behavior” (Przybylski &Weinstein, 2019). The findings did not support the prediction: there was no evidence for a relationship between violent game engagement and aggressive behavior.
To conclude, the latest studies, assessed earlier, reveal no evidence supporting the relationship between violent video games and their contribution to the long-term effect on aggressive behavior. Even though findings from past studies confirmed aggressive behavior generated during violent video games, those results were further proven to have only short-term effects and return to the baseline after the game. Moreover, possibly induce stress and aggression during playtime is proven to return to the baseline after the game, and is not likely to have long-term effects. Nevertheless, every study conducted recommends future research in accordance with their current limitations.
Kühn, S., Kugler, D. T., Schmalen, K., Weichenberger, M., Witt, C., & Gallinat, J. (2018). Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study. Molecular Psychiatry, 24(2019), 1220–1234. Web.
Porter, A. M., & Goolkasian, P. (2019). Video Games and Stress: How Stress Appraisals and Game Content Affect Cardiovascular and Emotion Outcome. Front Psychol, 10(967), 1-94. Web.
Przybylski, A. K., & Weinstein, N. (2019). Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behaviour: Evidence from a registered report. Royal Society Open Science, 6(2), 1–16. Web.
Roy, A., & Ferguson, C. (2016). Competitively versus cooperatively? An analysis of the effect of game play on levels of stress. Comput. Hum. Behav., 56, 14-20. Web.
Schareer, E., Kamau, G., Warren, S., & Zhang, C. (2018). Violent video games do contribute to aggression. In C. J. Ferguson (Ed.), Video game influences on aggression, cognition, and attention (pp. 5-21). Springer.